I’m learning a thing or two here. Mainly that I have some “princess-like” tendencies, especially when it comes to food. If you ask my parents they might admit that I had more than a few oddities as a child. After spending hours at the creek, running around barefoot with my “pet ducks” (no, seriously, I had pet ducks and huge bangs-shout out to KT), I would sit at our dinner table and discard the part of the French fry that my hands touched…germs.
Well, in Haiti I have adopted the 20 second rule…with the Mississippi. I’ve had kids “share” their food with me by stuffing it in my mouth before I knew what I was chewing. I have cleaned up “messes” (imagination please). I’d like to think that my immune system is being strengthened by the minute but realize it is grace that has helped me stay healthy so far.
With no Trader Joe’s around the corner, I’ve tried to focus on what epicurean assets we DO have here in Haiti. Dozens of different varieties of bananas, okra, eggplant, coconut and carrots are all available. As night falls, the power goes out and “free time” is plentiful, I turn to the internet. Thank God (literally) for google and pinterest. Throughout the day I will get distracted by little questions or discoveries and make a mental note, “I’ll have to google that.” And pinterest, o boy pinterest, “I ‘pin’, God laughs. Aside from having my dream home and other future life events pinned on some secret board, I find amazing tips, tricks and ideas. Pinterest is my social media match made in cyberspace heaven. So, here are some small discoveries.
Bruised Bananas Don’t Kill You
With the heat here, bruised bananas are a sure bet. I have a banana almost everyday for breakfast and, for awhile, I use to painstakingly eat around the bruised or brown part. That is unless the whole banana was browned and bruised. With my Trader Joe’s banana standards I would cringe at the thought of eating one, until I did. Sure the sweetness takes some getting used to but they aren’t all that bad. In fact, research shows that as the chlorophyll breaks down, browning the banana, powerful beneficial antioxidants called NCC’s are released. So don’t discard those brown bananas. Make some banana bread or freeze for a smoothie!
But Moldy Bread Might
It has happened more than once. The power isn’t on and I sleepily prepare my morning meal in my dark room. Bread, peanut butter and a banana. I’m eating and chewing, and something isn’t quite right. After further investigation I see the remaining crust is greenish blue. A bread bruise. Mold. With the humidity and lack of consistent refrigeration, it happens. Turns out, in some cases, depending on what type of mold it is, you could indeed get poisoned. Steer clear of moldy bread and feed it to the birds instead.
L.A. friends and health food nuts, I may have something here. The Moringa Tree. GC attended a conference where he learned more about this useful, drought resistant tree. Known as the Benzolive in Haiti, Moringa Trees are quite common and have incredible health benefits. The leaves contain over 45 antioxidants, 90 nutrients and essential amino acids. The kids and I recently planted a few here on campus and are excited to see how we can incorporate them into our daily diets. We have also started drying the leaves to be made into a powder for rice!
Crazy for Coconuts
There’s something about a coconut that just make me feel like I’m on vacation. Luckily they are everywhere here. And, with a quick pinterest search, I found all the great things I could do with them. We attempted our first batch of coconut oil…FAIL. We tried again, little progress. Third times the charm. First we hand grate the coconut meat then strain out the milk. The grated meat can be used in other recipes, the water is delicious and hydrating and the milk can be used to make pudding or coconut oil. We will see what happens. I love the taste of both the coconut and the water. Did you know that coconuts (in moderation) are also beneficial for a number or aliments? In my quick search of coconut claims I found that across the board, it is agreed that coconuts pack a punch.
According to Livestrong, “Coconut and coconut oil contain lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which is a monoglyceride that has antibacterial, antiviral and antiprotozoal properties.”
So basically, coconuts just might counteract all the “20 seconds rules”, the blind “sharing” , moldy bread mishaps and walking barefoot. Time will tell.